Jim Jobson: A Journey Through Naropa’s Early Years

Naropa_Mindful_Podcast-Jim-Jobson

The newest episode of our podcast, Mindful U, is out on iTunesSpotify, Stitcher, and Fireside now! We are happy to announce this week’s episode features Jim Jobson, (also known as Buddha Bomb) a Naropa alumnus (Buddhist Studies ’78), software developer, and music producer.

play-icon Jim Jobson: A Journey Through Naropa’s Early Years

“So, I went to the first summer of Naropa. And, it was not cool to be like a hippie anymore. There was an aggression of turning away from society. So, we encourage students to do meditation practice, but also to cut your hair, become a member of society, get a job, and having sort of this basic sanity notion of just having a quote, unquote normal life. Cleaning up your kitchen and going to work and doing a good job and meditating—like that’s all you need. You know, you didn’t have to do this fight against society. You just kind of go along with the energy.”

Full transcript below.

Buddha Bomb is the chosen musical performance name of software developer, James Jobson. As CEO of a Boulder software company, he created and marketed a major software application for three decades. But music is his passion, and he is best known as Buddha Bomb. He has been a host on KGNU public radio since 1997, and has performed at music festivals, ecstatic-style dances, parties and events of all kinds since 2001. Buddha Bomb has devoted the greatest part of his life to elevating consciousness and using music as a transformational conduit to bring healing and joy to thousands. His sets are inspired, seamless and often mystical. A Sonic Shaman he provides the fuel for the dance journey, which can bring you to your deepest depth and your highest height. Whether spinning Ambient, Ethno-Techno, Glitch-Hop, Tribal House, Psychedelic Trance, or from any genre of electronic music, including his own compositions, Buddha Bomb gives it his all.

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Jim Jobson and Mindful U Podcast host David DeVine.
Full transcript
Jim Jobson
“A Journey Through Naropa’s Early Years”

[MUSIC]

Hello. And welcome to Mindful U at Naropa. A podcast presented by Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I’m your host, David Devine. And it’s a pleasure to welcome you. Joining the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions – Naropa is the birth place of the modern mindfulness movement.

[MUSIC]

DAVID:
Hello, today I’d like to welcome a very special guest to the podcast and also a very close dear friend of mine Jim Jobson. He’s also known as Buddha Bomb. Jim graduated from Naropa in 1978. He is also a skillful DJ, a music collector, and a radio host at KGNU. So welcome to the podcast.

(ACTIVITY)
Oh, thanks for having me David. It’s great to be here.

DAVID:
Yeah, how are you doing today?

(ACTIVITY)
Busy and crazy as always.

DAVID:
Awesome. Dang, 1978 huh? You were here in the early years?

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah, I actually started the very first summer of Naropa — 1974. And I took classes and you know kind of worked my way through school. So, I was able to complete enough credits to graduate — After four years. So, I basically went part time to Naropa for four years. I had attended two years back East you know where I was a college football player —

DAVID:
Really?!

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah.

[00:01:46.16] Dr. Patel:
I didn’t know that.

(ACTIVITY)
Well then, I took a lot of LSD and started hitchhiking around the country and reading “Be Here Now” and you know amazingly enough in part of my journeys I hitchhiked through Boston and there was a dharma Arts Festival. And it was Ram Dass, Bhagwan Das, Allen Ginsberg and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. And Rinpoche was the last and there were a number of events — chanting and poetry readings and singing and things. And then the last thing was Chogyam Trungpa and it was during that experience that — was in the fall of 1973.

DAVID:
Ok, so —

(ACTIVITY)
That — that’s how I connected with the Dharma directly. I had been searching for it after I’d done a lot of psychedelic drugs. And was, yeah, I read the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita — you know be here now kind of set me off to researching these other things. And then I read the life story of Padmasambhava. And I also went to (?) — you know a Japanese Buddhist that they chant — Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

And I thought if that’s Buddhism it seemed like kind of materialistic or something to me. So, I was very bummed out. That was in Portland, Oregon. But then when I hitchhiked to Boston and I encountered the dharma arts festival was happening that next weekend amazingly — and then I attended all that. And then I became student. And then the next summer — you know one of the things that happened — I became a member of — it was called — this is before Shambala — it was called the Boston Dharmadhatu. And it was the organization — it was called Vajradhatu. And that was the Buddhist organization — and I became a member of the Boston Dharmadhatu and then went up to it — was called “Tail of the Tiger” — what’s now Karme Cholling. And that was the center up in Barnet, Vermont.

DAVID:
Wow.

(ACTIVITY)
So, I got in indoctrinated —

DAVID:
Yeah.

(ACTIVITY)
Back east in the winter of ’73, ’74. But then during that — all this and there was this talk of this college. Now, I had left college because I had decided the conventional world wasn’t for me okay. I had been a serious student. I was planning to become a psychologist — a psychology major. And, you know, I always did well in school and everything and I was athletic, but then I just saw all these other dimensions and I just also saw through like the hypocrisy of a lot of things in society and I — went on a journey and ended up at Naropa.

That winter in Boston I connected — I started doing meditation practice every day. There were regular study groups — there were workshops — sometimes Trungpa Rinpoche would come and he would do workshops in Boston. And sometimes it would be at Tail of the Tiger. And so, I started learning about the Dharma — I was reading the books. “Myth of Freedom” was — you know the first one that came out and then “Cutting Through” later. But during the spring of ’74 — started hearing about — there was Naropa Institute — was gonna happen. And then there was this brochure and it was all like Buddhism and poetry and psychology and all kinds of things that I was interested in.

So of course, I had to go. So, I went to the first summer of Naropa. And it was you know an interesting time because I still had long hair. And there was still a lot of, you know, I guess hippies around. But I had the experience when I went to Tail of the Tiger of most of the people like the administrators all had short hair — had cut their hair. And I hadn’t gotten to that point yet because I was still — had a lot of momentum for hitchhiking around — being a hippie and that was a whole lot of stories that we don’t have time to get into about that.

But anyway, it was not cool to be like a hippie anymore. There was an aggression of turning away from society. So, we encourage students to do meditation practice, but also to you know cut your hair, become a member of society, get a job and having you know sort of this basic sanity notion of just have like a quote, unquote normal life. Cleaning up your kitchen and going to work and doing a good job and meditating like that’s all you need. You know you didn’t have to do this fight against society. You just kind of go along with the energy. I don’t know that was kind of what I got — got out of it. So, it took me until I took refuge that summer to cut my hair.

DAVID:
I didn’t actually realize they were doing events outside of Boulder as a team like Ram Dass and Chogyam and Allen Ginsberg and that’s how you found them and then you actually traveled to Boulder because you heard of that?

(ACTIVITY)
There were several weekend events — they were called Dharma Arts Festivals. There were at least a couple in Boston and there might have been some in other places. But yes, there was a whole weekend — Ram Dass had a whole presentation where there was chanting, and he talked, and I know Bhagwan Das did this whole chanting evening — oh and Allen Ginsberg had this harmonium. And he used to sing with this harmonium and there’s recordings of it. So, there’s this weekend of activities — and there was an open house at the Dharmadhatu and I did some meditation and I talked to some of the people. And you know they told me like some things about what they called the Dharma. So, I went over there — it was part of the weekend and I went to all of the events. You know Allen Ginsberg’s singing event and they had Bhagwan Das did this chanting and I remember there were videos of avatars and things on the screen. There were different activities all weekend. And then the very last event on Sunday night was at Harvard — and it was Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche giving a talk. And he came out — he was actually there on time for this one. He came out and he sat down and he just sat there for a long time.

DAVID:
Ohhh.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah. And it was sort of like a John Cage moment — you know there was like a shuffling of people — and people coughing. And then finally he started to speak and he said, I’m not going to entertain you. LAUGHING. He said, there’s not going to be any chanting. He said, we’re not going to sing any songs. You know he kind of went into this thing and then he started to say how — it’s a very lonely journey. And how he’s just one grain of sand. And there’s, you know, endless numbers of grains of sand. And it — when he was speaking it felt to me like this is the first person, I’m hearing who is actually speaking the truth. And so, he gave this talk and that’s how he started. And then at one point all of a sudden, he might as well have turned the spotlight on me. He said, ok so you’ve been hitchhiking around the country, doing LSD, trying a little bit of this and a little bit of that and it’s true I had gone to you know the harikrishna place and you know I joined that Buddhist place and I kind of did different things. And he said, but taking LSD is like driving a car to go next door. It’s better just to — walk and then you see what’s on the landscape. And you see the flowers and different things. And I realized that he was my teacher. It was just a great talk.

DAVID:
Oh, so cool.

(ACTIVITY)
Oh, and then he kind of went on from there. And he was saying that instead of like tasting a little of this and tasting a little bit of that and you know spiritual shopping — you should find one path and just go with it. And then he said you know you need to find a teacher. And some guy who had held some sign — a Jesus freak I guess you could say jumped up and screamed, well yeah — well who was Jesus’ teacher. And Rinpoche said I was. And the place just exploded. Incredible applause.

Then obviously I went — I joined the Dharmadhatu and went the Tail of the Tiger and I had this experience where just — it was only about two months after that — there was a weekend. I think it was called Zen and Tantra — but there was a — a weekend seminar. And I was there — I participated and I had just joined the Boston Dharmadhatu. I had paid the first month dues and everything.

And there was a meeting at Tail of the Tiger — at some point for the Boston Dharmadhatu members. And I still had my long hair and beard. And I felt a little bit shunned during that weekend by some of the people and I kind of got that vibe that ok it was cool to cut your hair — not cool to not cut your hair, but I was still — was holding onto it a little bit.

So, this meeting came and we were there for the meeting and Rinpoche wasn’t in the meeting. You know he wasn’t there — everybody was there first and there were about a dozen or so students in the Boston Dharmadhatu who had attended this weekend workshop of the Tail of the tiger in Vermont. And Rinpoche walked in and at that time he hadn’t trained us yet. This is the fall — actually it was about December — maybe January of 1973 the untamable beings hadn’t been tamed. Nobody stood up. It wasn’t — the protocol hadn’t been established and that —

DAVID:
First experience with the Rinpoche in the room.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah well, he really established that when the Karmapa came and — and then the protocols all got established. But anyway, he came in the room and then he sat down and he just sat down on a chair. And he looked at every person in the room. And he looked at me. And he said we have an interesting collection here.

DAVID:
Nice.

(ACTIVITY)
I felt like I had felt like I was accepted and I didn’t worry about it. I was accepted. And then I cut my hair on my own later.

DAVID:
Yeah, oh that is so awesome. So, when you were going to Naropa what did you study and what was the vibe like?

(ACTIVITY)
Well there was a program — I was a BA. I had only — I had finished two years of college at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. And there was a program called Buddhist Psychology. So, of all the programs — there were several that were of interest. There was a Buddhist program too. But I graduated in what was called Buddhist Studies. You know there was a tradition in college to have a major and a minor. My minor was Beat poetry. So, I took all of the classes that I could with and — oh what a smorgasbord. Allen Ginsberg who was certainly the biggest one alive because —

DAVID:
He’s like the rock star of the Beat poets.

(ACTIVITY)
It was kind of funny and macabre. It was the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetic — but Allen Ginsberg was the head of the Disembodied school. And then of course Anne Waldman was a major player —

DAVID:
Anne Waldman is still in the game.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah, I know that she still is. A famous one — William Burroughs.

DAVID:
Yep.

(ACTIVITY)
And I actually cleaned his apartment at the University townhouses.

DAVID:
Nice.

(ACTIVITY)
And I got to meet him a little bit and attended his poetry readings and things. And I took his classes — I took classes with all those guys. So, with — but with William Burroughs, Philip Whalen — there was two I really resonated with — especially Philip Whalen. He was a Zen poet — dots and squiggles justify the air and Space I occupy.

DAVID:
Oh, that is so good. Wow.

(ACTIVITY)
All I bought was all I needed — namely soap. You know so I remember a couple of those things and then William Burroughs was — you know that… beams at the crowd — palmated, manicured, he wears a satisfied expression of one who was just sold a widow — a fraudulent peach orchard.

DAVID:
Okay give us your Allen now — let’s hear Allen.

DAVID:
Oh boy, Allen Ginsberg. I can’t do Allen Ginsberg because he was just an amazing individual and I’m just really fortunate. He actually took the time — I mean I took classes with him, but he read through my poems and made comments, you know wrote little comments on my poems and then I was involved in this poetry reading at Marpa house. I was a resident of Marpa house and I was reading this poem and it was actually kind of this whole life story about how I was no longer a virgin. And —

DAVID:
Poetry worthy you know.

(ACTIVITY)
Allen Ginsberg came in the room and sat down across from me. And was like egging me on. He was like — he’s like tell it me. Yeah, yeah and stuff like that. It was really incredible that he did that. And I never really hung out with him or anything. It was a student, teacher relationship — but I just feel really fortunate to have had that and also —

DAVID:
That’s so cool.

(ACTIVITY)
I can’t remember all — all the poets names. I remember there was this guy from this old band called the Fugs. Have you ever heard of those?

DAVID:
Oh man I think it’s Steven Taylor and he still comes to the SWP.

(ACTIVITY)
Ok, well I remember there was a guy who was from The Fugs and that was a group that I was aware of. I always liked unusual music. I always loved music as a matter of fact. On my sixth birthday was given a little record player and it could play 45s. And I remember my first record.

DAVID:
What was it?

(ACTIVITY)
The soundtrack to Dumbo. Pink elephants on Parade. I think it really influenced —

DAVID:
That’s what got it all started. Nice.

(ACTIVITY)
I’ve seen a few pink elephants since then.

DAVID:
Just a few. That’s so cool. So, tell us a little bit about your journey after Naropa. So, you’re on this path — you find out about this school —

(ACTIVITY)
I was living in Marpa house. And I also you know came out of this culture — this American culture. I was born in 1952. So, this whole 50s thing and I was programmed to have a career and that all of the relatives have these careers.

DAVID:
Yeah, what do you do?

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah —

DAVID:
Insert career here.

(ACTIVITY)
Exactly, so I had that orientation and I did have this notion of being a psychologist. So, I graduated from Naropa. I had — had a B.A. in Buddhist psychology.

DAVID:
You’re doing the thing.

(ACTIVITY)
And I was still living at Marpa house and I got a job at East High School in Denver working with emotional disorders. And it paid something about — it was like three or four hundred dollars a week, which even — even back then wasn’t a lot of money. But it was enough — I could sustain it at Marpa house fortunately. And I would take this bus — to Denver. And I did that after I graduated from Naropa.

So, I worked in the psychology field. And then I went to the 1979 seminary, which was in Lake Louise near Calgary — up in Canada. And that was a magical time and I learned a lot and it was an incredible experience and I was really connecting with the Dharma and the vajrayana on a deep level and getting you know sort of on that level so to speak or having that opportunity and that experience after so many years of meditating and going to classes and — and then it was — wasn’t anything you would expect. It was just what it was. But Rinpoche said something that — your life is gonna change and some magical things are going to happen to you. When he said that — in my mind I really couldn’t continue making you know a few hundred dollars a month. And to really have a successful career — financial sustaining career in the psychology field you need a masters and then a PhD —

DAVID:
Lots of work.

(ACTIVITY)
I was actually kind of — even though I enjoyed my time at Naropa. I didn’t want to keep going to school. I just wanted to live. I just wanted to work. I just wanted to practice. I just wanted to make it happen —

DAVID:
Yeah, get out there and show them.

(ACTIVITY)
I was — because the academic world, you know it’s how we really get jumpstarted into the world. And I feel like I had learned enough from that — just in for what I needed and I just wanted to get out into the world. So, I was living at Marpa house, taking this bus to the East High School in Denver every day. And there was a guy at Marpa house who was a computer programmer. And I talked to him about it and I was interested. I asked questions and he told me some things, but then he was I don’t know if you’d really like it and I said, well I think I would like it.

So, I bought a book and I read it and I started doing a little bit of research. So, I started asking him questions and then I convinced him to get me a job interview at the place where he worked. And I went to the place and you know I have a resume. I’m a graduate of Naropa and I have the last whatever it was eight months of working with emotional disorders at East High School. And I’m coming into a software company asking for a job as a programmer. You know I talked to the guy who interviewed me and I — you know I told him look I read a few books. I have these ideas. I — you know I’ve always been good at math. I think I can be good at programming. I just want to get an opportunity and start as a trainee. He was like kind of skeptical and he said, well you know we’re busy here and like you know he said if you had a year experience, we could do it and I said, look I said I love to play chess and I can play chess blindfolded. He said what you mean? I said I can turn my back to the chess board and just play the game in my mind and he said ok if you can beat me that way, I will hire you. So, I turned around and we played a game of chess — I played blindfold.

DAVID:
Did you checkmate him?

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah. Traditionally when you do blindfold chess or you do what’s called simultaneous — you play white. White starts and chess. And that day we did the old notation — now you would say D4 — in those days you said pawn to queen four and then we played the game and fortunately I was able to do it. So, I got hired.

So, I became a trainee on this company. And I learned computer programming and then I had a whole career. I ended up — I started my own software company called Rigden Incorporated. And that was during that time when I was starting the company Trungpa Rinpoche passed away. And I felt his blessings and I started this company called Rigden and it ran for 30 years and that was my primary vocation. And you know I was — just was very good at developing software and computer programming and I also had to learn how to sell and market the product. And I developed products from scratch. The product I created was a mail order catalog order processing inventory control accounting, database, marketing, sales analysis mechanism. There was all this big large database and mail order catalogs were a big thing in the 80s and 90s especially, but then the internet came over and online — well it’s just a different channel. So, the catalog companies — many of them still by the way print and sell — send out catalogs and people who order from them instead of calling the operator some of them still do and they still have operators, but most of them order online. But they use the catalog as a reference point. So, they still actually use the catalogs. So anyway, I had this whole career for 30 years and I’m still in the software development.

DAVID:
Ok, I actually didn’t know that. That was the only part I didn’t know about you because I know that early Naropa zone and then I know you like kind of now-ish.

(ACTIVITY)
Well, and then obviously you know we’re connected through my activities in the music industry.

DAVID:
Yeah, that’s what I like.

(ACTIVITY)
And that’s been a major part of my life as well. But, since I graduated from neuropathy, I thought I should say like, how did I sustain myself throughout that.

DAVID:
Yeah, yeah, yeah you’re like what did you actually do?

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah and I still — for me, music’s not about money and I — sometimes there’s certain events if they’re collecting money and making a profit I don’t — I don’t have an overabundance of money so I don’t mind getting a little bit. But I also don’t play for money and I always play when I’m asked to play whether I get paid or not.

DAVID:
Yeah, and that’s one thing I’ve always enjoyed about you is like your passion for music and your passion for deejaying is far beyond the average person. You — you were showing me like some of your music collection — you invited me to your studio. And it’s just like walls and walls of records and CDs and just like digital music and it’s so amazing to see that.

(ACTIVITY)
I’ve always loved music — like I said it started with that Dumbo album. I used to love that.

DAVID:
Mine was Peter Pan. So, I feel you.

(ACTIVITY)
But you know then I — I became a hippie and guess what.? Oh, and also my father was a managing editor of the Asbury Park Press. So, I would get first row tickets to the rock concerts. I saw the Doors.

DAVID:
What? Stop.

(ACTIVITY)
The Doors, Vanilla Fudge, Led zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, Chicago.

DAVID:
In the Garden of Eden.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah, I saw them twice actually they were with Rhinoceros once. I know Led Zeppelin was with Chicago once and Chicago their first album had just come out. Nobody had even heard of them. I — nobody — we had never heard their music. We saw them live — you know without blaring like it was — it was incredible. And then Led Zeppelin — we also saw Led Zeppelin and Joe Cocker opened for them. And it was during Woodstock. And they were on their way to Woodstock. It was that same weekend. And they were talking about it.

DAVID:
You’re making me jealous. I would love to see Led Zeppelin.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah.

DAVID:
Man, that’s so cool. So how did you get to becoming where you’re at now? Like tell us what you do now? Because when I say KGNU most people are not going to know what that means.

(ACTIVITY)
Well, why don’t I start by telling you how that all began.

DAVID:
Please.

(ACTIVITY)
I did have an appreciation of music and I think — you know I was in college I started getting stoned and you know I had a lotta the Who and I was very much — oh I saw Emerson Lake and Palmer live too. That was incredible.

Ok, so jump forward. I’ve graduated from Naropa. I have a career in software development. I worked for software companies from 1979 to 1987 and then Trungpa Rinpoche died April 4th, 1987. And that was when I started my company. I actually incorporated it on May 19th, which was the Parinirvana. And I opened doors on June 1st, 1987 and operated for 30 years.

So, it was somewhere — I would say — it was an early 90s. OK, I remember — I was doing prostrations every night. And to do ngondro — you know you do a hundred thousand of four different types of practices. And prostrations are often the most difficult for people because it involves an actual physical of doing one prostration and you do a mala’s worth, which was actually 108. But you only get credit for a hundred. So, you have to do it — you basically do a thousand malas and —

DAVID:
Yeah, they call it a boom, right. If you do a hundred thousand a mala…they call it a boom.

(ACTIVITY)
Okay. I’m not sure.

DAVID:
That’s what I’ve heard.

Okay. Well I’m not familiar with that term. In any case, I had gone through a period of not really practicing. And I started to practice again. And it was by auspicious coincidence I kind of slammed into a wall psychologically — drinking and all kinds of stuff. And I just stopped. Started practicing again. And a month later I took an airplane trip to Boston. And on the plane, I met a Tibetan lama was on the plane.

DAVID:
Oh, that’s awesome.

(ACTIVITY)
It was Khandro Rinpoche of the venerable Khandro Rinpoche — a woman teacher — one of the highest ranking Tibetan females in existence. She’s now the head of the Mindrolling monastery in Nyingma. But she’s you know Nyingma Kagye and I became her student for years. So, I continued and I finished ngondro. And then I did a lot of studies with her. But it was during that time where I was doing prostrations and I played football, like I said, and my knees got really banged up in football. So, doing prostration was actually a little bit of a challenge. And I found that I had to just do it purely on my hands all the way and not touch my knees. And it was a little bit more athletic — it’s an athletic way to do it.

DAVID:
It’s almost like yoga.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah, I still do it that way. And the most I could do — and I was, you know, got into shape doing it, but it would hurt my knees if I did more than 300. There were a couple of times where I — on a Saturday or Sunday I did like 600 —

DAVID:
Feeling it.

(ACTIVITY)
Well it injured my knees. And then I wouldn’t be able to do it for a few days. So, I realized the consistency. So, I got into a pattern where I could do 300 and it was good for my health and it didn’t harm my knees so much. So, I do 300 every night. And I would do it after dinner — from about 9 p.m. till midnight. And then —

DAVID:
Wow so it’s like a hundred per hour.

(ACTIVITY)
Well, I would do some practices before, but it sometimes take two — two and a half, but it would take up to three hours.

DAVID:
Ok, you had a little block at time? Yeah.

(ACTIVITY)
And then at midnight — you know I had this software company — and I always had work to do. So, I would do software development and follow through on things — this was before e-mail (whispers).

DAVID:
Wait, what? There was a before e-mail?

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah. I was young. We didn’t even have artificial intelligence.

DAVID:
Snail mail.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah. I used to turn on the radio and I used to listen to KGNU and there was this one late night DJ who used to play techno music. And so, I was doing this practice — turned on the radio one night and there was this music playing. And I just heard it on different levels like it — and I called him up. And this was the first time I called him — I ended up calling him a lot after that. I called him up — his name was Chris. I said Chris what’s that playing. He said that’s techno, man. And I said, what’s techno. And he gave me a rundown and he said —

DAVID:
Oh cool.

(ACTIVITY)
He said, well go to the record store and there’s a group called the Orb. And they’re pretty interesting and they’ve got this ambient thing and then there’s Orbital and they’re kind of like this — you know and he told me a little bit about these different genres. And so, I went to the record store the next day. And then I would ask them — well who else is like this? And then I started — and in those days they didn’t have an electronic section. It was just all in the Rock — interspersed with rock music. So, I started collecting electronic music.

DAVID:
And this is all on vinyl too, right.

(ACTIVITY)
No, it’s mostly on CD’s.

DAVID:
Oh, this is CDs — ok.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah. No. And I wasn’t a DJ. I hadn’t been introduced. I just started collecting electronic music and playing it. This is in the early 90s. I wasn’t going to Rays or anything I just loved the music. And so, when I learned out more and more you know I started hearing psy trance early and stuff.

DAVID:
You do play a lot of psy trance. You play some good psy trance.

(ACTIVITY)
Well I had that influence. And so — my software company was happening. I was developing — you know, I was marketing the software. I sold the system to companies in South America and Australia. And I went on a business trip to Australia. Now, this is getting later — this is 1998. And I’m just marketing, installing and making my product work in these different countries. And so, I’m in Australia — installing a system — and I would go out at night and there was bars. And I would hear the kids driving around — around the main streets. They do that in Australia just like they do in America. And in America — they’re listening to rock music well there they were listening to techno. So, I found like that — when I would travel international that I collect techno music. So, anyway I come back — the Saturday after I get back from Australia — we have a company dinner. I arranged a drive home so I can smoke and doob — and I’m driving home and I turn on KGNU and its playing what I now know as psy trance. I mean it was psy trance. And I called the radio station and said this is great — hat is it. And they said that it was this and that. And I said, hey man I love electronic music. I’ve been collecting electronic music for many years and I was just in Australia and you know told them a little bit. And the guys said, well that sounds really interesting. Why don’t you bring some of the music you like down and be a guest on our show next month?

DAVID:
Oh, that’s so cool.

(ACTIVITY)
So, I had actually been listening to KGN — that’s why I started collecting electronic music, but now I actually was a guest on KGNU and then I just got involved from there and that was 20 years ago this month. It was actually — the date I was a guest was January 9th, 1999. 1999.

DAVID:
Wow, that just passed.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah.

DAVID:
Twenty years ago. Look at that.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah, so now I’m on my second — third decade starting. So that was 20 years ago and then auspiciously then last Monday on — let’s see January — was it January 13th, I think. I was voted on the board of directors of KGNU radio. So, I’ve been involved for 20 years. And I’m involved in — this show that I was a guest on was called Electronic Air. So, it’s a two hour electronic music show from 9 to 11 p.m. every Saturday. And I’m still on their rotation and E23 who was the guy who answered the phone is still in the rotation.

And then I host Under the Floorboards, which is an experimental, obscure, strange, different noise sound — things you don’t —

DAVID:
When is that one on?

(ACTIVITY)
11:00 p.m. till midnight every Saturday. So, it’s right after Electronic Air. And then I also host a late night show — and you’ve been a guest on that show. And that’s called Sleepless Nights.

DAVID:
Sleepless nights.

(ACTIVITY)
And that’s from midnight to 3:00. I’m usually on Thursday nights, which actually transform into Friday mornings. So, I do — like about three of those a month. And then at least one Electronic Air and one Under the Floorboards and then sometimes I cover and do some extra shows as well. And Sleepless Nights is a variety show. So, Electronic Air is all electronic music. Under the Floorboards is all strange and different music. And then Sleepless Nights is any kind of music. So, I do have producers and DJ’s like you and poets and singer songwriters. I had a bagpipe player once — played bagpipes in the KGNU studio.

DAVID:
Oh man, that’s crazy. Yeah, it feels really fun to like kind of round it off and have you on my podcast because you’ve had me on your radio show and that was like a really fun experience. You were the first radio show I’ve ever been on and the first time I’ve ever like kind of been on a mic in front of you know an audience that is behind radio — something to listen to.

(ACTIVITY)
Well radio is interesting because there’s always somebody listening but you don’t know who.

DAVID:
You have no idea.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah, and you know you can — you can see how many computers are connected on the internet to the URL, but you don’t know who’s listening on AM and FM. KGNU has After.FM dot com and the shows are archived because some people say, well I can’t listen to your shows because I can’t stay past midnight. I say oh no you can listen —

DAVID:
[00:36:07.07] EMILY:
So, they can go to the website and just —

(ACTIVITY)
After FM — and you can look up either Buddha Bomb or you can look up the show by dates and stuff like that.

DAVID:
Ok, have you DJ’d on your own show? I mean like actually DJ’d because I know you put on the music —

(ACTIVITY)
Well, Electronic Air I usually bring my laptop and mix with the midi controller and you know beat match and everything. On —

DAVID:
Your hip, man. You got it.

(ACTIVITY)
On the experimental show I usually — I collect a lot of things. I still — I’m a dinosaur. I go buy music and I buy CDs still. And I like — and it’s easy to play CDs on the radio. So — and with the experimental music sometimes I’ll experiment and play two or three of them at the same times. But you’re not really — you’re not beat matching it and you know mixing it in the way that we do at dance partners. So, I don’t usually play that kind of music on — but on Electronic Airs — it’s Saturday night 9:00 to 11:00 — people are going out and partying. So, I’d like to get the party started is what I say. So, I usually play a lot of fun dance. It’s like you’ve heard me play more than a few times.

DAVID:
Yeah, you have like a very tribal world base beats, psy trancy, eclectic, electronic feel.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah, well ok on the radio you can’t really play the same kind of music. You can’t just play like house. I can’t just play like house music even though I sometimes play house music. So even though I play mostly electronic music on the radio — I play many different genres. And so, I’m used to that. So, first of all I’m used to genre shifting from the radio — of kind of keeping it interesting and you can’t — you know sometimes I will have a guest who I’ll play like — do a house set or something for an hour. And that’s cool. And that gives people like a real taste of what it is. A little different dimension. But by and large, you want to mix it up. So, I have that kind of background of changing the music and then the primary DJ experience I’ve had over the last decade is in the ecstatic dance world. So, I play in rhythm sanctuary which was originally called Gypsy Nation.

DAVID:
Oh, I didn’t know that.

(ACTIVITY)
Shout out to Ava — holds that together.

(ACTIVITY)
And also, Shannon who was the Boulder —

DAVID:
Ah, nice.

(ACTIVITY)
The Boulder rhythm sanctuary. But there was a whole — stories about how ecstatic dance started. And it seems to have started in Hawaii on a Sunday morning.

DAVID:
Five rhythms.

(ACTIVITY)
Sunday morning ecstatic dance. So that seems clear, but there’s ecstatic dances all over the place. I met somebody at a potluck last week — who’s from Portland, Oregon. Somebody told him I was a DJ and that I did ecstatic dance and he was asking me about the local ecstatic dance scene and I was telling about the different ecstatic dances. I also do you know the movement Wednesday, which is now at Valley soul.

DAVID:
Yeah, I do the Wednesdays and we also do movement on — during the summer we get the D.J. the band shell. So, I mean you get to do that.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah well that’s true. There’s an — well a number of things. Well in Boulder there’s a number of things, but I he told me that there’s like a different ecstatic dance just about every day now in Portland, Oregon. So, it’s — it’s happening all over. So, I’ve played many ecstatic dances and ecstatic dance — you generally start out more chill and you build it up slowly not abruptly and you make it compelling and you get into a trance state and you don’t really do so much songs with a lot of lyrics so much. It’s more like deeper — like it’s actually modern day shamanism because what you’re doing when I’m DJ-ing an ecstatic dance — I’m facilitating the participants going into a trance state. And a lot of it has to do with the repetitive beats. Now we do start out with a more down tempo or mid tempo beat and we’ll build the beat PMs up. And I will play different forms of music and it will be — you know more ambient, side chill, down tempo and maybe a little more up tempo to get more like Glitch hop and then I’ll get into the heavier beats because I feel like ok now people are ready to get into a deeper experience. And I’ll start playing like real tribal. And I do a lot of world flavors into it throughout and then not always — it depends on the feeling, but if I feel that the participants are resonating with the heavier beats — I’ll go into psy trance, which is traditionally 140, 145 BPM’s — now some of it now is produced much faster, but I like to keep it to a 145 at most at an ecstatic dance. And build it up to really a crescendo and then bring it back in to more of the down tempo — it’s kind of like — it’s just something that we really work with.

And for the ecstatic dance experience I spend the most time preparing the DJ sets because it’s a curve that I understand. And then what I do is — I have tracks lined up, but then I have alternate tracks depending on how it feels.

DAVID:
And reading the vibe in each moment.

(ACTIVITY)
Well sometimes — I’m just playing and I just realize this is what they need to hear. And sometimes it is something totally different. And you know it might be — there was one I had recently where it was — when I played a little bit of the harder music — much more joy happened that I realized I could introduce just a little bit more than I had planned. And things like that. So, you know I make adjustments based on — so there’s an improv component to it — a lot of preparation. And then you’ve got just a couple hours to make it happen. But people are there from beginning to end and they report — there’s usually a circle at the end where people can share their experiences of the ecstatic dance.

DAVID:
Yeah, and just so people know — that are out there that don’t know what a BPM is — it beats per minute. So, every song that you listen to has a tempo and that tempo, according to the clock, will — will every time you hear the beginning of a kick drum on the first beat — that was — will create your beats per minute. And so, like when — when Buddha Bomb was talking about like what number of BPM — 140 — that’s a very like dubsteppy, heavy bass kinda — reggae even zone. So, there’s like styles that live within 100 BPM, 120 —

(ACTIVITY)
How music is in the 120.

DAVID:
Musicians know — when you hear a style music you can almost guess the BPM’s and all that fun stuff. And ecstatic dance too is — it’s not something you would see in a bar. It’s very intentional music. People are having a good time. There’s really no talking on the dance floor. They don’t want to interrupt the dancing experience — it’s self-expression. So, you can let loose and do your thing. And its super fun to be a DJ in an ecstatic dance zone. It’s — because of how you were saying — you get to manipulate the vibe and just kind of bring take them on a journey.

(ACTIVITY)
Exactly, it is a journey. And they’re there for the whole experience. So, it’s like you know you’re doing your painting — so you want to see the whole painting. And by and large most of the people are there for the entire time every time. And they’re there for the whole experience. So you can really just start in a way where you kind of just — can — you know kind of get them to resonate with you and get them to trust you something I’ve found that’s very important is to get the audience — then you can start to read them and then you can tell by either they’re dancing with alacrity or they’re maybe — don’t seem quite so interested of how to change it up. Or you know — you detect when things aren’t working.

DAVID:
Yeah, oh my gosh it’s so fun talking to you about all this. Actually, our time is up at the moment, but before we go, I just wanted to have you tell where people can listen to you because you are on the radio pretty often. You work for KGNU and just so people know how to reach you — because we have a lot of listeners that like might want to tune in but aren’t in Colorado.

(ACTIVITY)
Well my website is Buddha Bomb dot net and dot com boom. Buddha — B-U-D-D-H-A. Bomb — B-O-M-B. People say why is the name Buddha Bomb? Well that’s another story we don’t have time for now, but I’ll just leave it with — there is a chant — who da bomb — Buddha Bomb. Who da bomb? Buddha Bomb.

DAVID:
Ok, look at that.

(ACTIVITY)
So —

DAVID:
I like it and then —

(ACTIVITY)
Buddha Bomb dot com and then that has an audio page and that’s linked to my SoundCloud account. And then I have a SoundCloud account and I do have a Buddha Bomb and a Buddha-Bomb (Buddha hyphen Bomb) and the difference is the Buddha Bomb is — I have some original works on there. And the Buddha-Bomb is I have the radio shows and things like that, but I have on an audio page on Buddha Bomb dot com — if you go to that audio page it’s linked up and you can listen to the SoundCloud tracks from there of the Buddha-Bomb. And it’s got — there’s about 100 tracks now. The radio show you were on is one of them. And also, I had Amani Friend as a guest of Desert Dwellers and Liquid Bloom. I also was able to interview Opiuo at ARISE and I did a show — that show is on there as well.

DAVID:
We went to Opiuo together like two weeks ago — that’s — I was literally like asking you to be on my podcast while Opiuo is dropping base music and — in front of us and here we are.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah, and that was —

DAVID:
You told me you interviewed Bassnectar too in the early days?

Bassnectar was on Sleepless Nights and Electronic Air back in the day.

DAVID:
Legend.

(ACTIVITY)
And I have them on a CD somewhere that I got to go through — I have a vast collection and I’m going to — it’s — in Buddhism there’s something called terma which means its discovered text. So, I’ve got this terma — so I’m going to have to discover some of these — these things.

DAVID:
Wow, man there’s so much to be said, but our time is up, but I just want to take a moment to appreciate you as the person who you are and for sharing your stories and just being like how I see it a local legend — you know like when people hear Buddha Bomb is playing ecstatic dance people just get so excited about you. And your love and passion for music has allowed these young kids to experience this ecstatic dance in such a way that is therapeutic. You know dance is extremely therapeutic. And it’s just so amazing to feel your passion and you’re just so eclectic. You drop fat bass and people are just looking at you’re like damn this guy’s like doing it right now. And it’s just such a pleasure to be around your experience and —

(ACTIVITY)
Well, you know my — my main formula for DJ-ing is — I play the music that I absolutely love. And I’ve just kind of betting that since I love it so much probably some other people are going to like it as well.

DAVID:
It shows. And like you say you don’t even take money — you’re just down for the cause. You just like to drop bass.

(ACTIVITY)
Well I made that decision a long time ago that not to — and there’s nothing wrong with that. And some people who produce music and they need to do that full time. And I support them. It’s wonderful. Like Opiuo — he put out a shout out after the show you and I attended that was sold out and said thank you so much. I know — I appreciate so much. You people come and see me every time you spend your hard earned money and come out and there’s a lot of appreciation.

DAVID:
Yeah, so show love to all those artists — they’re working hard out there people.

(ACTIVITY)
They are. Well they love to come — come to Colorado because people actually sell out the shows.

DAVID:
Colorado loves their bass music.

(ACTIVITY)
Yeah.

DAVID:
Yeah, ok.

(ACTIVITY)
You’re right we could — we could talk about this forever. Okay. Well thanks David. I appreciate being on the show.

DAVID:
So, I’d like to thank our special guest Buddha Bomb — also Jim Jobson. He is a Naropa alum graduating in 1978 and he’s also just a really good friend of mine and an eclectic music collector, skillful DJ, and he’s also a host on a couple radio shows on KGNU. So, thanks again for speaking with me.

(ACTIVITY)
Thank you, David.

[MUSIC]

On behalf of the Naropa community thank you for listening to Mindful U. The official podcast of Naropa University. Check us out at www.naropa.edu or follow us on social media for more updates.

[MUSIC]

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